"Being a mum made me better at my job"

Sue Pearce has worked as a disability support worker at Yooralla for just over four years.

Sue said the flexibility of hours and her experience with children is what initially attracted her to the role.

“I am a single mum. When my son was younger, I did some cleaning jobs, worked in childcare and that sort of stuff.

“When he moved out of home I thought ‘what do I want to do’? A friend of mine who used to teach computer skills at Yooralla said, you’d be brilliant for Yooralla, go and do that!

Sue on the Puffing Billy. The trip was part of Yooralla's Recreation program.
Sue on the Puffing Billy. The trip was part of Yooralla's Recreation program.

“I mainly work in recreation, but have sometimes done residential support, depending on if I want to do more hours. It is the sort of job where you can be at home when your kids are.”

“I think being a mum and having those skills are really good for this job – being nurturing and patient really helps with this role. Also, when I’ve done camps I often chat with parents and share my ideas and my best parenting tricks.

“I’ve gotten to know the other support workers really well and they’re great to work with. Working with a good team just makes the job more flexible.

“When we do the school camps we always say it’s our weekend family.”

Sue said that no two days are the same.

“In this job I’ve done camps, swam with penguins, gone to the zoo, gone to the movies – today I was sewing curtains!  We go to different things that interest each individual person.

“Part of the job is getting to know people and what they like – then, you need to have a look around the area and research places and things that that customers would enjoy.

“When you work with someone for a while, you get to know what they like to do and know what activities to suggest.

“Some of the customers enjoy the garden but can have difficulty getting out, so I ask them, what do you want me to do in the garden today? I go out and just muck around in the garden or prune the roses.”

Sue said knowing she’s bringing joy to others is what she enjoys most about her role – and she always knows when she’s really nailed it.

“Sometimes it’s just getting a smile – but when I do something they really enjoy – I know it and I’m like YEAH!

“You’re passing on some joy. It may be accompanying someone to a concert - but you are giving that person the opportunity to not just be a person in a wheelchair, but to be a person who is just another music fan.

“Other times I might just watch a show that I wouldn’t normally watch so I can say to a customer the next day what did you think about last night?

What would Sue say to someone who was thinking about applying for a job at Yooralla?

“I’m still enjoying it after four years and I’m always surprised!

“I’d say be patient with yourself while you’re learning new skills.

“You need to be willing to learn something new and stretch yourself. I work with people who need ventilators, people with autism, people who don’t speak. For me it was helpful to watch how people operated.

“It can be a rewarding career and the pay is not bad either. Everyone focuses on how fulfilling the job is - people need to know that you can have a rewarding job and make money too.

“My son is 25 now and he always asks me about what I do. He says to me all the time you make a big difference mum!”

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